Mercosur foreign ministers warned UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the serious implications which the United States global espionage system represents for the international community, during a Monday midday meeting at the UN headquarters in New York.
“We have expressed our concern and warning over the serious implications that these illegal procedures displayed by the government of the US have on the political stability of countries and the necessary mutual trust of the international community members”, said Venezuelan minister Elias Jaua at a press conference following the meeting with Ban Ki-moon.
Jaua was the spokesperson of the Mercosur group of foreign ministers, Antonio Patriota, from Brazil; Hector Timerman from Argentina and Luis Almagro, Uruguay, as well as associate member Bolivia’s David Choquehuanca, because Venezuela since last July holds the rotating chair of the South American trade block.
The ministers thus complied with the formal request from the last presidential summit of Mercosur in Montevideo in mid July, when there was an official release condemning US world espionage, which was revealed by the former intelligence officer and whistle-blower Edward Snowden currently with one year political asylum in Moscow.
“This practice is absolutely in violation of international rights for the safeguard of countries sovereignty and independence, and even more, is in violation of fundamental human rights of the citizens of our countries”, underlined Jaua.
When asked about the reply of Ban Ki-moon to the Mercosur statement, Brazilian minister Patriota said that the top US official “shared the concern” of the block. “UN Secretary General reacted in a way that showed awareness towards the message we transmitted from our presidents”, added Patriota.
During the meeting the ministers also expressed Mercosur ‘deep concern’ because of ‘the abuse and affront’ to Bolivian leader Evo Morales presidential immunity “when he was impeded air space free passage over several European countries under suspicion that his aircraft could be transporting Mr. Snowden”, when he was still stranded in the Moscow airport and hoping to be granted political asylum by some country.
The decision adopted by Spain, France, Italy and Portugal last 2 July “seriously endangered not only the dignity of president Evo Morales, but also his own physical safety since he had to over-fly with limited fuel and was forced to land in Vienna”, explained Jaua.
Snowden who is wanted by Washington for having leaked the existence of a US secret program that operates domestically and internationally to spy on phone and internet communications, was finally granted temporary asylum (one year) in Russia given the difficulties to fly to Latinamerica where several countries had offered to help him.
Precisely asylum was another issue addressed with Ban Ki-moon following on the strong pressure exercised by the US on several Latam countries (Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela) which offered an alternative to Snowden.
“For us Latinamericans the right to asylum is a right all citizens can exercise as well as the right of States to be respected when they extend such a benefit, and it is a principle we are not willing to negotiate” said the Mercosur spokesperson emphatically, who then recalled that ‘this very principle helped to save many lives during the hard years of the military dictatorships suffered by many countries of the region”.
Finally the foreign ministers reiterated their standing concern on two recurring issues: the US blockade on Cuba and Argentina’s claim over Falklands/Malvinas sovereignty.
There is a demand that these two issues “definitively find a solution since they are highly sensitive and of great concern for the Latam region”.
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez was scheduled to meet Ban Ki-moon later in the day in advance of her speech to the Security Council on Tuesday, taking advantage of the fact that Argentina will be holding the presidency of the council during the month of August. The president arrived in New York on Monday morning.